How to Put Out Charcoal Grill? A Detailed Tutorial

Whether you want to grill, smoke or barbecue, a charcoal grill is outright the best to infuse the much-coveted smoky aroma in food. However, unlike the gas grill where you can instantly turn off the burners, the charcoal grill requires a little effort to extinguish. Scroll down to know how to put out charcoal grill and why you should spend time snuffing out the fire.    

5 Reasons Why You Should Never Avoid Extinguishing Your Charcoal Grill 

Leaving the hot charcoal unchecked can bring about the following potential hazards: 

  1. A grill with no one stationed around is commonly assumed as an unused and cold grill. Anyone passing by may happen to touch it. Or the children playing in the backyard may plan to look into the grill. This can lead to severe burns.  
  2. The burning coals can spill out of the grill if someone or an animal knocks it over. The scorching coals can light up grass, wood decking or other stuff. Consequently, this can become the reason behind triggering a serious fire. 
  3. If you are an environmental enthusiast, you must be aware that burning coal has a contribution to greenhouse gases. So, leaving them unextinguished means your grill will be releasing carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the air, that too without any purpose. 
  4. Charcoal tends to retain heat for as long as 24 hours or more. Even if you can’t trace any glow in them, don’t assume that they are safe to dump directly. Remember that it takes only an ember to start a fire. 
  5. You are probably not using your grill for the last time. This means you will be requiring coal in the future as well. Why waste extra money in buying new ones? Pull the unburnt ones out and recycle them later. 

How to Put Out Charcoal Grill – Step-by-Step Guide 

Though there are multiple ideas for extinguishing the charcoal grill, we know you won’t wish to go through a grueling cleaning session after snuffing out briquettes. 

So, here’s a safer yet cleaner extinguishing guide: 

Step 1: Block the Oxygen Sources

Fire requires oxygen to stay alive. Hence, restricting access to air is the first thing to limit heat generation. Do this by placing the lid on the grill and closing all vents (top and bottom). The charcoal will automatically suffocate after all the air present in the grill is burned. 

Step 2: Let the Grill Cool Down 

Leave your grill for around 4-8 hours or until the embers have died and it has cooled. Since it’s a long procedure, make sure you place the grill out of everyone’s way or block it off. 

Step 3: Dispose of the Ash and Spent Coal

Some grills have an ash dump at the bottom. If yours has one, utilize it to clean out as much ash as possible. Collect the ash in a metal container. Take a metal scooper and scoop out the leftover ash and spent coal from the base. 

Experts also recommend collecting and wrapping the used coal and ash in an aluminum foil sheet. Dumping them this way in a metal container leaves behind almost no chance of starting fires. 

Step 4: Separate the Unburnt Charcoal 

Before disposing of the charcoal in the trash can, look out for the lumps or briquettes that can be used again. Pull them using tongs and toss them back into the grill. If you have a fireproof container, store the leftover charcoal in it. 

Putting Out Charcoal Grill with Water  

While there is no one denying the extinguishing power of water, it is also true that pouring water directly over your burning grill can lead to unexpected results. Some of them are: 

Damaging grill: Adding cold water over a hot grill will lead to a sudden temperature change. The thermal shock can sometimes be strong enough to crack the grill. 

Steam cloud: As you pour water, the burning coal evaporates the water suddenly and steam is formed. The steam has a high temperature and can cause burns. 

Mess: The mixture of water, ash and coal lumps forms sludge at the bottom of the grill. If not removed immediately, it can harden and block vents or dampers. Besides, cleaning this all up would be nothing less than a nightmare. 

Hence, water is only recommended to use when you are in a rush or away from home. For example, during camping or on vacations. In that case, drizzle the least possible amount of water over the coals and transfer the residue to a metal container. 

Another safe way of using water is to pull out the burning charcoal using metal tongs. Never forget to wear heatproof gloves to prevent burns. Transfer the hot coals into a metal bucket containing cold water. Scoop out the ash later using a metal spoon or scoop. Dump in a metal container. 

Remember that the metal tongs and scoop will get hot. Place them on a non-flammable surface to cool down. 

How to Control Flare-Ups 

There can be several causes behind flare-ups. The marinade drippings, melted fat from the meat, the grease on grates or the high heat, anything can cause high flames. However, this does not happen generally if you follow the safety measures and learn the right way to control flare-ups.  

Do not try to pour water over the flames. This can further spread out the burning grease and hence can cause more flare-ups. The best thing to do is to put the lid off and wait for a while. Lack of oxygen will automatically result in controlling the flare. If things get out of control, wear heat-resistant gloves and use a fire extinguisher to snuff out the fire. 

Storing the Unburnt Charcoals 

If you are concerned about burning reusable charcoals during the extinguishing process mentioned above, try using this technique beforehand: 

  1. Take a large metal bucket and fill it with cold water. 
  2. Wear heat-resistant gloves and grab the metal tongs. 
  3. Locate the unburnt or partially burnt charcoal lumps and pull them out using tongs. 
  4. Transfer charcoal in the water bucket for 60-90 seconds and place it on a non-flammable surface. Repeat the same cycle for each lump/briquette. 
  5. Leave them to air dry. 
  6. Store them later in a fire-proof container. 

Now, follow the extinguishing tutorial for burnt coal and ash. 

For best results, mix new charcoal with recycled ones for the next cooking session. Nonetheless, if you’ve bought cheap fuel, reclaiming it may not be beneficial. So, follow the tip only if you have used high-grade coal. 

Safety And Proper Usage Are Necessary 

Every factor that may trigger fire is covered in this guide. However, we don’t mean to frighten you off the charcoal grill. If safety precautions are followed, there’s nothing much to worry about. Enjoy the outdoor grilling sessions with your friends and start cooking tender, moist and flavorful dishes.